Improvements in criminal confiscations on islands

The Dutch Ministry of Justice and Se­curity will ensure a further improvement to the system of confiscation in criminal cases in Bonaire, St. Eusta­tius and Saba.

Dutch caretaker Minis­ter of Justice and Security Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius pledged this in a letter that she sent to the Dutch Second Chamber of Parlia­ment earlier this week in response to a recent report of the Law Enforcement Council.

The Council concluded that the process of criminal confiscation in the Caribbe­an Netherlands in practice functioned well. The steps that have been taken are showing results, especially the (temporary) appoint­ment of a special person al the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force KPCN that handles criminal confisca­tions.

According to Minister Yesilgöz-Zegeriuss, there has been improvement in the way the KPCN handles criminal confiscations since 2015, when seizures were executed in a more at-ran­dom style by various offi­cials without having a clear connection.

Both at the KPCN, the Customs Department, the Royal Marechaussee and the Prosecutor’s Office, there are clear directives on realising a proper exe­cution of criminal confisca­tion within the agreed upon framework based on set procedures and plans.

The minister responded to the investigation of the Law Enforcement Council with regard to the manner in which drugs, weapons, money and other goods of criminals are confiscated and safely stored or possi­bly disposed of. “Especially in the case of drugs and weapons, it is importance that these cannot cause damage any more in the community,” the Council stated.

The Council’s investiga­tion showed that the pro­cess of confiscations is pro­ceeding much better than at the time of the previous investigation in 2015. The Council did have four rec­ommendations, all of which Minister Yesilgöz-Zegerius pledged to follow.

Structural funding will be made available for a permanent confiscations officer at the KPCN. The Council advised to make additional capacity avail­able at the Prosecutor’s Of­fice for confiscation-related cases. The minister stated that the portfolios within the Prosecutor’s Office will be redivided, whereby con­fiscations will be handled by one specific prosecutor. This should lead to a higher priority where it regards confiscations.

The Council also asked the minister to take a criti­cal look at the execution process of confiscations in St. Eustatius and Saba, and to discuss the possible vul­nerabilities with the police teams on these two islands and to see what can be done to prevent potential bottlenecks.

There may be less crime on St. Eustatius and Saba, but the rules of confisca­tion are just as strict as in Bonaire and the Nether­lands. The police chiefs on the islands are experienced, but there is limited capac­ity and know-how within the team on this particular matter.

The minister responded that the commander of KPCN has informed her that the confiscations-ded­icated officer at the KPCN will visit the police teams in St. Eustatius and Saba to look at possibilities to improve the process and to implement the best prac­tices from Bonaire.

The Daily Herald.

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